This page of vitamin D facts may be an eye-opener for some readers. We hope it provides a clearer picture of the importance of this health enhancer. We hope it helps our readers understand the signs of vitamin D deficiency and most of all, we want to present another weapon in the fight against cardiovascular system diseases, cancer, and other chronic conditions that affect so many people.
We'll begin with some vitamin D facts that illustrate why more attention needs to be given to the problem of dangerous deficiency in this area.
The American Medical Association uses 20 nanograms per milliliter per day as an appropriate target or as being "sufficient." We'll use the shortened version of "ng/ml" in this page when referring to vitamin D levels. To illustrate the math in this term, look at it this way. Think in terms of 1 gram of water in 1 million liters of water. Then divide down to get the fraction for a nanogram vs. milliliter. That will be the end of the math quiz for this page.
The big problem with the AMA guideline of 20 ng/ml is that many independent studies suggest that number is far too low. More recent research indicates that the number should at least be doubled. The statistics involving vitamin D deficiency, especially among pregnant mothers and newborns indicate a growing problem in this area.
A vitamin D fact that is like a flashing neon sign is indicating that increased levels of vitamin D have a major impact on cancer prevention.
A study from Creighton University put the number at 30% percent lower risk of developing cancer by boosting vitamin D levels. The lead author in that study, Joan Lappe stated, "Due to more time spent indoors, many individuals are lacking adequate levels of vitamin D compounds in their blood. The results of this study lend credence to a call for more attention to the importance of vitamin D in human health and specifically in preventing cancer." We'll get back to that part about "more time spent indoors" a little later in this page.
Another study indicated that people who double that suggested level of 20 ng/ml per day, lowered their risk of cancer by over 60% as compared to people only reaching the suggested AMA level.
And in a study conducted a year before, women had over a 50% reduction in colon cancer threat when they doubled the level of vitamin D to at least 40 ng/ml.
A critical vitamin D fact is that this nutrient effects every cell and tissue in our body. Vitamin D has an impact on health beginning before birth and continuing throughout our lives. Just below is a short list of diseases that higher levels of vitamin D can help to prevent or reverse:
* Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
* Brain related conditions including Alzheimer's disease
* Autoimmune diseases
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* Sleep apnea
Here are a few signs of vitamin D deficiency. If you are experiencing any of these, please consider getting your vitamin D levels checked out.
* Head sweating is a classic sign. This is particularly true among newborns.
* A combination of fatigue along with aching bones and joints.
* Gut conditions such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease.
* Continual depression.
* People over 50 are also at risk as kidney function slows and our skin doesn't convert sunlight into vitamin D as well.
The solution isn't too difficult. Since we recognize vitamin D facts, we know that if any of these characteristics are with us, we just need to increase our vitamin D intake.
There are two important sources of vitamin D. One is the sun and the other is from the food we eat. In the interest of accurate reporting of vitamin D facts, I will add supplements as a third option, but it is a distant third. Better than nothing but far short of the benefits of natural sunlight and improved diet choices.
We'll deal with diet first. Our body is able to convert vitamin D from certain foods into valuable disease fighters. Working in tandem with magnesium, our various systems can do amazing things. Unfortunately, our western diets are also leading to magnesium deficiency along with a shortage of vitamin D.
Just below are some excellent food choices to increase vitamin D:
* Mushrooms, especially portabello. Morel and maitake are also excellent sources of vitamin D.
* Trout, salmon, and tuna
* Lean ham and sausage. Be sure to only pick meats never exposed to antibiotics.
* Almond milk
To add in extra magnesium consider:
* Leafy green vegetables
* Nuts and seeds
* Cold water fish
* Beans, lentils, chickpeas
* Dried fruit (apricots, figs)
* Dark chocolate
When you put these two lists together you come up with the basic parts of the Mediterranean diet. This simplifies the process. Just follow that plan and and your vitamin D levels will go up naturally. Especially when you add in natural sunlight. Here is a link with more information about the benefits of exercise and increased vitamin D.
We are now learning that there are over 1000 different types of rays emitted from the sun. In addition to cancer prevention, our cardiovascular system is also enhanced by natural sunlight. Please check back to the list presented a few paragraphs ago. The most important vitamin D fact is that natural sunlight can provide a healthier life.
But what about skin cancer? This is a big question. And it is a reason for that earlier quote about not getting outside enough. Too much television is another reason. But that is for another page.
Melanoma (skin cancer) can be avoided with some planning and attention to detail. It begins with knowing your skin type. Lighter skin requires less sun exposure to increase vitamin D levels. The downside is that lighter skin burns quicker. Avoiding sunburn is most important.
For most people, starting off slowly to get just a little color will help to prevent sunburn. Start the summer with shorter times of exposure and use good judgement.
The most important vitamin D fact is that we are much healthier when vitamin D levels increase to proper levels. This includes both physical and mental health. In colder climates, depression levels go up during dark winter months.
There are proven cases of much shorter hospital stays among patients who received larger amounts of vitamin D. The evidence is also very clear that in terms of preventative action, increasing vitamin D levels through better food choices and carefully monitored sun exposure is a proven winner.
The vitamin D facts are in and they tell us that we need to move past that suggested 20 ng/ml level. It's an easy fix. Natural is always better than drugs. Make better food choices, get some exercise outside in the sunlight and enjoy a more vibrant life.